Stand-ups, Slack and SPIFs: managing a remote SDR team at outreach

Posted March 24, 2020

Brooke bachesta headshot

By Brooke Bachesta

SDR Manager at Outreach

For many of us, remote teams are a new challenge. I have traditionally had my SDR teams in an office, so even if my reps were in a different state they still were part of a team environment, so this shift to entirely working-from-home has been an adjustment.

But even in this new state of affairs with COVID-19, Outreach helps managers to manage teams across any situation. Inbound or outbound, in-office or remote, here are some of the ways Outreach’s SDR team is keeping the pipeline moving!

Routine is Key

Right now, we are still holding the same meeting structure that we had when we were still in the office. We meet once in the morning at 8am and again in the afternoon at 1:30pm using Zoom, and spend about 20 minutes checking in. Attendance is mandatory, so if a rep is late or looks disengaged (we ask for video on), it’s a good thing to make a note of. They might be overwhelmed or dealing with other personal issues, so this allows me to make a note to follow-up with them.

Our morning meeting is about setting the tone for the rest of the day. We check-in, talk about updates from yesterday, highlight meetings booked/running, etc. My focus is keeping our routine alive so that reps can hold onto this stability and we can replicate the “good morning” ritual we’ve all grown accustomed to. Additionally, as a manager this gives me visibility into who’s online and ready for the day, and allows us to start the day on a good note.

Our afternoon meeting has been shifting a little bit. Some afternoons we’ll do a check-in on output and who booked meetings, or what are people most proud of accomplishing that day. Other afternoon meetings are more team-focused, and we talk about how everyone is feeling about working from home, and how other people have been impacted. Managing is about supporting people, and I want them to be open and honest about how I can help them personally or professionally in this new state of things. For instance, one meeting we talked about how we are taking care of ourselves, either by attending a virtual spin class or going for a walk, finishing that book, or cooking at home rather than ordering take-out again. This personal focus on each other as people and maintaining these connections has helped retain some normalcy to our days by replacing water-cooler talk with Zoom-talk.

Start a Buddy System

In addition, I’ve also broken out my team of 11 SDRs to have buddies. Each of them have an accountability-buddy to check in with throughout the day in case they don’t want to wait, or can’t wait, for the next team huddle. This buddy is someone to vent with, celebrate with, provide tactical support, or to lend an ear when they need someone or I’m not available. With the uncertainty of this moment in time, making sure they feel comfortable and supported is my number one priority.

Make Global Teams Feel Local

Although we’ve just now transitioned to a remote team, we’ve always been dispersed, with SDR teams in Tampa, London, and Seattle. We wanted to bring the team together to build relationships, but didn’t want to just throw another meeting on the calendar. Instead, we’ve been running “cross-team role plays” for the last couple of years, where once a week for 30 minutes, one rep from one office calls a different rep at a different office and practices their cold-call script. The rep who captains this initiative, sends out a 2 column spreadsheet of names and phone numbers each week, pings the org-wide slack channel, and we’re off to the races! For quality control, managers can listen in through Outreach and ensure that folks are participating and giving constructive feedback.

In addition, Slack is our best friend. Our team channel, as well as the org-wide SDR channels, have been blowing up in a great way. The same best practice sharing that used to happen on the floor: “Hey team, I just had a great call!” or, “I got this objection, what should I say?” is still happening on Slack. Why is this awesome? Because now, everyone, not just the folks who used to sit next to each other, get to see these messages. Same for our content creator, David, who’s done an incredible job of picking up on trends, listening to the SDR team and what they’re hearing on the phone, and churning out Templates/Sequences/Snippets for the team to repeat those best practices.

We’ve also integrated Ambition with our Slack channel so that it can push updated Sales Accepted Lead data straight to Slack and notify the entire team. This is a great way to celebrate wins, especially for those reps who may not feel comfortable giving themselves shoutouts. It’s objective, output-based, and updates in real time.

Lean on Your Outreach Data

Since I can no longer pop by someone’s desk to ask how their day’s production is going, I’ve been really thankful that I can continue to lean on our Outreach tool stack. Here’s a few of the key reports I’m checking multiple times a day instead of my historical once a day:

  • Outreach Reports home: Here I can check calls and prospects added to Sequence, and make sure we are doing the little things. In this case, that’s making their dials (my team has a target of 60 every day), and continuing to fill their pipeline. My team has a target of 15 prospects added to Sequence every day, but the number of prospects in a Sequence should be unique to each business. Fifteen is what we do for our outbound team, but this number should be tailored to each sales org’s needs. Whatever your number, keeping an eye on basic daily KPIs in Outreach Reports is a great way to be busy and productive.
Screenshot of reports dashboard within the Outreach platform.
Sales leaders will want to balance these KPIs based on their specific market, as well as the number of tasks per Sequence, but here's a look at my team's performance...
  • Outreach More insights: Here, I’m checking to see which types of Sequences the team is using. Outreach has been making the shift away from automation to heavy personalization, and I can do a spot-check on the most-used Sequences to see if this is happening. We employ a naming convention that leverages the words “automated, manual, call heavy, or personalized” before every Sequence, so when I’m spot checking, I’m looking for a majority of Sequences titled “manual” or “personalized” at the beginning, which tells me that reps are leveraging their research in their outreach. While we certainly use of templates and persona messaging in our Sequences, we coach our reps to go the extra mile and research something related to that prospect’s Linkedin page. For example, how a prospect describes themself in their bio can help us tailor the language in our pitch, or if they’ve gotten a promotion recently we might discuss that too. In any case, both our “personalized” and “manual” Sequences either provide a template with research required, or a totally blank slate that a rep could write from scratch. Additionally, given the current climate, we’ve amended some of those Sequences to acknowledge the current state of the world with things like “I know you have a lot going on now,” or “Hoping that you and your team are safe,” at the beginning.
  • Sequence Use. Building pipeline for the future is crucial, now more than ever. If your team handles both inbound and outbound, be sure to check which types of Sequences are getting the most usage against which are getting the most responses. With some customers seeing a higher influx of inbound leads, it’s imperative to coach your team to use their highest performing Sequences as well as being tight on their task execution.
  • Additional Checks. Outside of “types” of Sequences, the management team and I can drill into overdue tasks within a sequence, reply rates or general Sequence adoption. Sometimes reps can be wary of new Sequences and be reluctant to leverage them, but checking the number of prospects active in any given Sequence and relative to that Sequence’s reply rate, is a great way to check new strategy adoption.
  • Opportunity Notes: I want to be sure the team is booking meetings with the right personas, and if the appropriate qualifications have been assessed.

Keep it Fun and Positive

To keep the team motivated, we’ve increased the scope and number of SPIFs we’re running. We’ve created small contents for things like:

  • Highest number of calls/Sequences: In this contest, whoever wins gets a small gift card. This helps incentivize over-performance of KPIs even when there’s no one around.
  • The “perfect day:” To incentivize consistency and teaming winning, if every person on the team books a meeting on the same day, the whole team gets lunch or gift cards.
  • Call blitzes: To encourage high-performance in a WFH environment, as well as constant communication through the Slack channel, we give the team one hour to see how many booked meetings they can get over the phone, and every meeting wins a coffee gift card. SDRs can ping the channel when they’ve “got one,” and I can double check by leveraging Outreach call dispositions.

Larger SPIFs take a bit more organization, but are proving to be a fun way to unite folks across teams. For instance, in partnership with the AE leaders on my team, we’re running a contest to pair SDRs and AEs together. We’re incentivizing frequent collaboration by measuring initial meetings booked and pipeline generated together. With multiple teams and a constant scoreboard update from our Outbound Sales Coordinator, Amy, we’re keeping the team engaged while continuing to drive hard towards leading indicators to help us this quarter and into the next.

These are just a few of the ways that I’m helping motivate and take care of my team while we’re all remote. We’re all in this together, so stay safe out there.


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